The Balance Code

Untangling Clutter: Part 2 Mental Clutter

September 06, 2023 Katie Rössler Season 1 Episode 19
The Balance Code
Untangling Clutter: Part 2 Mental Clutter
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you ready to tackle that to-do list and get projects finally done? The most important reason why we need to do so is because it's leaving a mountain of mental clutter causing you to feel emotionally and physically exhausted. In this episode, I share invaluable strategies that will empower you to prioritize, streamline, and manage your hectic thoughts. Our discussion will center around the methods of segmenting your to-do list by time of day and the practical framework of the four quadrants of time management - a tool, that will revolutionize the way you handle important and essential tasks.

As we progress into our three-part series on understanding and dealing with clutter in our lives, we'll delve deeper into the art of managing mental clutter through the deceptively simple act of breaking it down into manageable tasks. Seems easy, but we tend to overcomplicate things! I'll guide you through a liberating process of brain dumping, and creating a pragmatic to-do list, transforming your worries into less daunting and achievable tasks. Join me in this enlightening journey of exploring clutter and start reclaiming control over your mental clutter today!

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Balance Code Podcast, a place where you have permission to step outside the hamster wheel of day-to-day life and learn tools to create more balance. My name is Katie Russell. I'm a licensed therapist and burnout and hidden grief specialist. I support ambitious, goal-driven people who are ready to get off the one-way train, to burnout and start to enjoy life again to the fullest. Oh and, by the way, I'm a mom of three, an ex-pat living in Germany who's still learning the language, and an entrepreneur Living my Balance Code is what keeps me able to work in incredible ways without burning out. So let's find your Balance Code.

Speaker 1:

Hey everyone, we are into part two of our three-part series on clutter Now. Part one was on physical clutter, so make sure you go back and listen to that to start to explore the interesting relationship you may have with clutter. I know mine is for sure. In today's episode, we are talking about mental clutter. I think this is something we're all familiar with, right? A lot of things on our to-do list, a lot of things we are keeping in our minds not to forget, and the constant reminders of the things we haven't done. This is where procrastination likes to play a role, because we want to avoid the mental and emotional negative experiences of doing the thing and the reality. We're just putting it off and making it worse for ourselves. We've got a great episode on that. I'll link to it below.

Speaker 1:

But mental clutter is a big challenge for most of us. When you are juggling so many things, mental clutter is just a natural byproduct, it's normal. But there are ways that you can be dealing with it so that it does not impact you as much, because the mental clutter, emotionally and physically exhausts us. Let's be honest, you've had one of those days where you're working all day and barely physically moving, but mentally having to do a lot, and you physically feel exhausted at the end of the day and you still can't turn your mind off, right, oh my gosh. You go to bed and you're like, oh god, that one more thing and I shouldn't have done that, and then like it just goes and goes and goes and goes. So what do we do with mental clutter? How do we sift through it? How do we make sure we don't forget the things that we don't need to forget, like the serious stuff, right, sometimes there's things we can't forget and actually it'd be better if we do than some things we need to remember. Well, I have two tips for you that I love doing when I'm really in a place of like ugh, this is just too much. So the first one it's gonna sound funny create a to-do list. Yeah, katie, okay, but the problem is like I have like 10 of them. Okay, here's what I suggest you do At the end of the day, you write down all of the things before going to bed that you need to remember for the next day.

Speaker 1:

Really, create your to-do list and bonus points, if you can go ahead and break them up into in the morning, I need to do these. Around lunchtime, I need to do these, and afternoon or evening, these are the other things I need to do. It groups it for your mind and actually it will help you start to remember the other things you were going to forget. And creating that to-do list. Have you ever done that? You create the to-do list and then 10 minutes later, you're like oh wait, one more thing. Oh, another thing, oh, another thing. Well, there's something about segmenting your to-do list by time of day. You'd like to get them done. That helps you remember some of the other things that you didn't want to forget.

Speaker 1:

So, creating that to-do list for the next day, knowing you're going to add more to it. I mean, gosh, we are high achievers. We just think we can do more. You know well, I've got the energy for it. Okay, do you really? So you group that to-do list by time of day and then you know you have it and you put it in a place. You will see it first thing the next day. I can't tell you how many times I've created to-do list, closed it up in my day planner, put it to the side. Morning comes, go off on my normal routine, come back after dropping off the kids, open it up and be like ah, there were two things I had to do this morning before drop off. So make sure you put the to-do list in a place. You actually will see it.

Speaker 1:

The other thing about a to-do list is it keeps you focused. If you put it in a place, you're going to focus on it, right, like okay, today in the morning, I want to get these things done by lunch. This stuff has to be finished. Now let me speak to you. It's a very loving and kind person who cares about you and you are ambitious. Please look over that to-do list and say is this realistic? Can I actually get all these things done by 12 o'clock? Don't flood your to-do list just because you can. I really want you to put things on the to-do list you don't need to forget for the next day.

Speaker 1:

Think of it in the four quadrants of time management. If you're not familiar with these, I'll give you a short rundown. And the top left quadrant is the urgent and important. Think of these as the fires that you need to put out. So what are the things like? It is due tomorrow. It has to be done or it's due by Friday and it's Wednesday, right? These are the super emergency will impact your life and others in major ways. It needs to get done. Taxes are due tomorrow. Whatever, it might be right.

Speaker 1:

Then there are the Urgent, not important, and these make it on our to-do list too. Let me tell you what these are. It's the problems other people have that they want you to fix. And I'm not talking about, like your family members, who are incapable of doing those things and you really do have to do them. I'm talking about the people who maybe at work, or older family members or friends who you've committed things to, because you're that person who says yes and you're realizing you should say no because they created an urgency that made you feel like it was important. But it's actually not as important as taxes. You're sick child you going and getting that doctor's appointment to get that checkup you need? After how many months, years? Hmm, right, like there are things that we will create urgency and importance around that really aren't, and it's just because it's somebody else's urgency and we don't want to disappoint them.

Speaker 1:

Next is non-important, non-urgent, and thankfully, most of the time we don't put these on the to-do list. Actually, I'm gonna take that back. Sometimes we do, sometimes we'll want to, like, clean that room in the basement or that drawer that nobody touches, nobody's going in. So why is it on that to-do list every week? It isn't actually important. You're just adding it there because eventually you want to get to it. But why keep adding it during a week when it's super stressful, a month when it's super stressful, like, don't add it in your to-do list when it's actually not important and it's not urgent. And then the fourth quadrant is your top right quadrant and that is important and not urgent. And this is self-care, this is taking care of your relationship, this is planning ahead, this is prepping for things the night before.

Speaker 1:

This section is about personal growth and health and wellness and, overall, like staying balanced and stable. It's the quadrant of time management we want to spend a lot of time in, after finishing up, taking care of the urgent, important, and so our to-do list should have things like that. If you are an entrepreneur in the business world, the tasks that get you money are in that section, the things that you do to move the ball forward. That's what's in that section. It's not the well if I've posted a zillion times on social media without having a call to action, or if I write 10 emails to these people who aren't even my ideal people to work with as I'm job searching. Like no, it's the stuff that really is going to bring an income in and actually get you in the right places that you want to be or that job you want to have. So that quadrant is important and your to-do list should be based on the first one. What is urgent and important oh, my gosh, it's due tomorrow, or somebody's sick or something bad is happening and major is occurring and maybe major good as well, but it just it needs urgency now. And what is not urgent but important. And if I do that if I clean up the front entranceway to my home, it serves the biggest purpose for all of us. It makes life so much easier. So that is important but maybe not urgent, unless you're like tripping over everything every day and somebody got hurt, right, like those should be the things on your to-do list. Okay, I'm off the to-do list.

Speaker 1:

Let's move on to the second thing. The second thing is a brain dump, and I highly recommend you do this after the to-do list, or maybe you can do it before and then from it you'll pull some things. But the brain dump is all the stuff you can do at the end of the day. You can do it at the beginning of the day, you can do it middle of the day, you can make as many as you want during the day, but a brain dump essentially is letting out all the things that are on your mind, all the things you don't wanna forget. All you know, even emotions might come out.

Speaker 1:

This thing occurred to me and it makes me so angry and I don't wanna forget to tell that person that later on, whatever it might be, let it all out. What are the things here worried about, stressed about? I mean, it's literally a brain dump, like dumping it all out on a piece of paper and instead of holding it in your head, you're allowing it to be on paper in front of you. Why is this important?

Speaker 1:

Okay, when I tell my six-year-old and my nine-year-old clean your room, I sometimes get a really blank stare or I get whining. But usually I get a little bit of a blank stare because they don't know where to begin. And it's very much the same how I feel when it's like, ah, I need to clean my house. Okay, where do I begin? Sometimes you know where to begin and then you stop after that room because you're like, nope, too much, it's overwhelming. So when I tell my daughters, hey, books on the bookshelf, and they go do that. Okay, clothes in the dirty clothes hamper, not on the floor. Okay, make your bed, I break it up into small things and it's doable and things get done.

Speaker 1:

It's the same with the to-do list and the brain dump, instead of it becoming this big mountain in my mind of all these thoughts, all these worries, all these stresses, all these things I don't wanna forget. I'm putting them on paper in two distinctly different ways, so that I can actually see what's really in front of me and it allows my logical mind to calm the emotional brain that's going oh my God, I'm so stressed and overwhelmed. This is too much and I don't know when I'm ever gonna find time to say oh, actually, three of those things can get done tomorrow before lunchtime, okay. Or if I set an alarm on my phone, I won't forget to call that person, return that email, whatever it might be, and if I call this person to ask for help, they can take care of this project instead of me handling it. Right.

Speaker 1:

But if we don't brain dump it and then sort it into a to-do list, it's like me looking at my house and saying I need to clean it, or you looking at your email inbox and going clean it out and you're like where do I begin? Where do I start? Start with the top one great, that's gonna be fun. Like one out of how many that need to be addressed. It is overwhelming when we look at the complete picture. But if we start to look at the chunks and the small things and put it on paper and go, okay, here's what's in my mind that mountain becomes little hills that we can climb over. We can more easily get over them. But you have to put it on paper first. I love having a notebook for this, one notebook where I can brain dump it all. I put the date, sometimes I put the time if I'm gonna do more that day than just one, and I just put it all out there, and it's fun at times to go back and look and see like how much progress I've made. That less is on my mind, but sometimes it helps me remember things that I did actually forget. I'm really glad I wrote them down the week prior.

Speaker 1:

Mental clutter exhausts us. It is exhausting, but there are tools we can be using, and these two tools in particular are extremely helpful when it comes to the mental clutter we have in our lives. So I want you to try them and I want you to tell me how it turned out and which one you like better, or if you like both, and which one you find yourself using on a more regular basis. Now, as I shared in the first part of the series, stress overwhelms us. It impacts our physical health, our emotional health and our mental health, and a lot of the time, all the clutter that we have is creating more of the feeling of stress, and when we have that stress it's a lot like so I'm silly, but a zebra running for its life from a lion.

Speaker 1:

It is releasing the same amount of adrenaline and cortisol and we're just dealing with being in traffic or a parent that we don't like in the pickup line at school, or knowing that taxes are due tomorrow. Right, like our, things are not life and death. They might feel like that sometimes, but they're not and we're physically still responding. Thank you, caveman brain. We're physically still responding that way and because we do that, it can take up to three to four hours for those hormones to release out of our system.

Speaker 1:

But if you are in chronic stress and constantly having stressors activate the stress cycle within you over and over, and over and over on a regular basis, it can take up to six months and this is where we go Mayday, mayday, burnout, full overwhelm, and now we're in burnout. And my goal is to help you to find tools to start and detox from the stress and the hormones that are in your system every day and have a routine of doing that, so that you're not that person in six months coming to me going I've hit burnout. You can always come to me in the six months if that happens. But I just wanna say there are ways we can start to prevent that, and I have a 30 ways to detox from the stress workbook that I have available to you right now. Now you can find the link for that in the show notes, and I wanna make sure you get it, because it's not only an E guide with the 30 ways and an explanation of how they help, but it's also a workbook, and that allows you to really take a moment to reflect on the stress in your life, how you're responding, how you're not responding and what things you wanna change as you incorporate some of those 30 items and 30 ways in order to decrease the stress hormones in your system. So make sure to grab that in the link below in the show notes.

Speaker 1:

Okay, well, that wraps up part two. I'm looking forward to part three on emotional clutter, and here's to finding our balance code. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. If you have a moment, please leave a rating or review so that others can find this podcast who are looking for support, just like you. Let's connect on Instagram at katiewrestler or at balancecodepodcast, or check down in the show notes to find ways that we can work together and see other offerings that I have for you at this time and, as always, here's to finding our balance code.

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